2020 MLB Breakout Candidates

Dinelson Lamet, P,  San Diego Padres

Dinelson Lamet quietly had a dominant second half of the 2019 season.  Lamet averaged 12.9 K/9 ranking third just behind Gerrit Cole and Chris Sale.  From July 18 – Sept 18 Lamet lowered his ERA by nearly three runs while opponents hit just .224 against him. Lamet brings a 96mph fastball to go along with a devastating slider that held hitters to a .129 batting average last year. Surprisingly Lamet’s biggest concern was his troubles in his home park, hitter friendly Petco Park was not kind to him.  Giving up a 5.25 ERA and a surprising .432 slugging percentage.  

At just 24 years old the Padres have a potential ace to continue to progress along with fellow flame thrower Chris Paddick.  Lamet’s biggest issue is his control averaging 3.71 walk per nine last season, actually improving from his career mark of 4.04.  Lamet brings ace caliber stuff to a team that should be much improved in 2019 with the full time production of Fernando Tatis Jr.  Lamet will be a steal for fantasy owners as well as the Padres. Big things are coming for him in 2020. 

Jesus Luzardo, P, Oakland Athletics

Luzardo would have cracked the Athletics rotation out of spring in 2019 if an injury hadn’t derailed his season.  The 22-year old Luzardo eventually had his chance during the tail end of last season and immediately made an impact with 16 strikeouts in 12 innings and showing the ridiculous stuff that have baseball scouts drooling.

Luzardo is projected to be the 4th starter for the A’s which means he will daily be matched up with pitchers that don’t even scratch the surface of his ability.  Luzardo has the stuff to become an ace as long as he stays healthy.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr, INF, Toronto Blue Jays

Gurriel has serious holes in his game. His 25% strikeout rate and his subpar defense are both things that need to be improved on.  Despite his issues Gurriel still brings a lot of power to the table, 20 homers in just 84 games last year show’s what he has the possibility to do in a full season.  Gurriel’s .264 ISO and .541 SLG allow him to be in the middle of any lineup. The Blue Jays have a young core of hitters Vlad Guerrero Jr, Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette are the headliners of the organization while Gurriel is still just 24 year old and will be a mainstay in the lineup for years to come. 

Austin Hays, OF, Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles have become the 76ers of baseball.  Since losing the 2016 wild card game Baltimore went into the cellar of the AL East and the entire league.  The Orioles moved all players with any major league success in order to rebuild the organization from the bottom. Austin Hays ranked as high as the 21 in the MLB Pipeline prospect rankings.  Hays got a surprisingly September call up in 2019 and he immediately paid off. 309/.373/.574 in 21 games during the month forced the organization to move quickly inserting Hays as the prospect to watch heading into 2020.  

Hays will have the chance to start the year in th majors during the upcoming season.  His defense in center along with his potential should make him a pre-season candidate for AL Rookie of the Year.

David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies

David Dahl has been a preseason favorite of mine for a number of years.  2020 seems like the time for Dahl to take the next step. Injuries have continually derailed Dahl’s potential.  From 2016-2019 Dahl played only 63, 77 and 100 games, missing the entire season in 2017. Dahl’s splits favor Coors field as do many of the players that wear the Rockie uniform, he still brings together a great mix of power and speed. What sets Dahl apart from others is his ability to produce versus both lefties and righties.  His slugging percentage and batting average are similar no matter who he is facing.  

A healthy David Dahl will be placed right in the middle of the Rockies lineup either right behind Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story or right before them.  It really doesn’t matter what part of the lineup Dahl ends up, if he is able to stay healthy he will be in for a season that should make him a household name by the end of the season.

Honorable Mention:

Willie Calhoun, Texas Rangers (Get well soon)

Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays

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